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  • Writer's pictureJames Sargent

FBI Comes A-Knockin'

Brotherly Love, from Ch 3, “Family Matters”:

August 28, 2023

In May 1946, the FBI, working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, secretly called on Mickey Mathews and his friend Frank Tuttle to help launch a plan to stop liquor smuggling by truck from Ontario to various cities in Michigan:

… Shortly after 7:00 o’clock on Sunday evening, three quick knocks rattled the screen door. Sitting at the kitchen table, the two couples had returned from dinner at Frankie’s, an eatery one mile east of Ypsilanti on Michigan Avenue. Frank recognized the code knock of John Becker as well as the scent of his Motor City Cologne.

Frank brought the FBI agent to the kitchen and introduced him to Norma Jean and Patty. A few years younger than Frank, Becker stood the same six-foot-two. As usual, the federal agent wore a blue pinstriped suit with a starched white shirt and a blue necktie. Watching, Mickey figured Becker’s precise appearance brought to mind the word spiffy.

Smoothing his tie, Becker bowed slightly. “Ladies, I’ve heard Frank and Mickey talk about having beautiful wives.” His gravelly voice caught their attention. “I can certainly see why!”

He grinned, his half-open eyes shining like twin brown lamps in his craggy clean-shaven face. Well-groomed from the slick brown hair combed down the middle to the black wingtip shoes, the agent moved with the agility of a quarterback and embodied the confidence of an expert. Frank once called Becker smart, articulate, and tough, and Mickey agreed.

The epitome of a thorough agent, Becker had solved cases in more than one city. His colleagues figured the longtime bachelor would move up the ladder to Washington, DC. Norma Jean and Patty offered their hands, and Becker shook with both, displaying his firm grip.

He grinned. “I hope you don’t mind if I talk to your husbands, well, perhaps in private.”

Norma Jean turned to Frank. “Patty and I will be upstairs. We want to listen to the big band music out of Detroit on the radio tonight. Let us know when you’re finished.”

The two women went out on the front porch and left to the outside door leading to the upstairs apartment. Ike, the big German shepherd, watched as the three men took seats around the kitchen table, Becker beside Frank…

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